YOUNG STARS RETURN FOR JUNIOR AND U23 CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena is set to host an exciting day of athletics this Saturday as Ireland's fastest man, Israel Olatunde, makes his second appearance of the season at the 123.ie Junior and U23 Indoor Championships (January 14th).
The Irish 100m record holder is set to take to the track for the heats of the 60m from 10.32am with the men’s 60m final scheduled for 1pm, all streamed live on the Athletics Ireland Youtube Channel.
Olatunde will join the over 500 athletes as they battle it out for national honours across the busy 8-hour schedule.
The first track medals of the day will be decided in the 1500m, where recent European Cross Country Championships silver medallist (U20 team), Sean McGinley of Finn Valley, will look continue the momentum from his superb 2022 season in the U23 race, while Tullamore’s Ava O’Connor is sure to be tough to beat in the women’s race set for 11.05am.
The sprint finals will follow with all eyes on Israel Olatunde (UCD AC) as he looks to better last weekend’s opener of 6.73 posted at the first round of the AAI National League.
Bori Akinola (UCD) impressed last weekend with a 6.80 for 60m which should ensure Olatunde won’t have it all his own way should they all make it to the afternoon’s final. Oliver Swinney (Speed Development Project Track AC) also clocked 6.80 six days ago and will be looking to get among those podium places come Saturday afternoon.
Charles Okafor (Mullingar Harriers) steps up into the U23 division this year, and many will be eager to see how he goes in the 200m following his string of standout performances across 2022.
Race of the day could potentially be the women’s 400m with the ever-consistent Lauren McCourt (Bandon AC), Caoimhe Cronin (Le Cheile), and Blanaid Fogarty (Enniscorthy AC) all set to take their place.
The Waterford pair of Jake Bagge (Ferrybank AC) and Callum Hurley (Ferrybank AC) are sure to go well in the 800m, with Bagge back to defend his 2022 title which he secured in 1:52.45.
There will be no shortage of star names in the field events with World U20 finalist Reece Ademola (Leevale) looking to follow up on last weekend’s’ 7.51m season opener in the Long Jump. Fellow long jump specialist Ruby Millet (St Abbans) also returns to action following her 6.16m best last Sunday.
Ciara Sheehy (Emerald AC) is back to defend her title in the Shot Put, while Casey Mulvey (Inny Vale) is also entered and would look the likely favourite heading into the weekend if taking her place.
Lucy May Sleeman (Leevale) looks the likely favourite for the Junior 60m title. Sleeman, fresh from last year’s appearance at the World U20 championships, will be tough to beat if building on last week’s 7.41 behind clubmate Joan Healy.
Fatima Amusa (Leevale) also holds an entry in the 60m but expect to see her best over 200m as she bids to defend her 2022 title.
Sleeman also goes in the 60m hurdles but won’t have it all her own way with hurdle specialist Lucy McGlynn (Tír Chonaill A.C) also entered having only narrowly missing out on the title last year.
Adam Nolan (SLOT) will bid to defend his 60m hurdle title come the late afternoon session and looks sure to have plenty of challengers to his crown.
The aforementioned McGlynn also holds an entry in a stacked 400m which includes last year’s champion Kate O’Connell (Lucan Harriers), as well as the hugely exciting pair of Victoria Amiadamen (Doneen) and Niamh Murray (Bray Runners) to name a few.
European U18 Championship silver medallist Fintan Dewhirst (Tir Chonaill AC) is also set to take on the 400m in a deep looking men’s race.
Maeve O’Neill (Doheny AC) returns to indoor action in the 800m following another hugely progressive 2022 season, while Jack Kelly (Tír Chonaill A.C) looks one of the favourites going into the 800m this weekend.
Mullingar medals could be the tail of the walks events with brothers Matthew and Andrew Glennon sure to be right up there in the junior race, while clubmate Aisling Lane (Mullingar Harriers) will also have no problem with the 3000m distance as she looks to continue on from her superb 2022 form.
The Leevale pole vaulters will be looking to dominate yet again come the afternoon session, with stars Conor Callinan and Una Brice sure to provide plenty of thrills for those in attendance.
Ava Rochford (Nenagh Olympic) also holds an entry for the pole vault and will puh Brice all the way, while the Nenagh athlete will also be one of the leading favourites for gold in the High Jump earlier in the day.
Lifford Strabane’s Adrienne and Caoimhe Gallen are sure to go well in the shot put competition, while Athenry AC’s Liam Shaw is another exciting young thrower who will be looking to build on his outstanding 2022 season.
The 4x200m relays will sign off the 123.ie National Junior and U23 Championships for 2023 with the women’s race the penultimate final of the day scheduled for 6.10pm. The races are sure to provide their customary end of day drama as action comes to a close.
Live Results HERE